MANILA — Soldiers and families living on far-flung Pagasa Island will receive care packages from the University of the Philippines Cadet Alumni Organization.
Twenty-nine boxes of food and non-food items were donated by the UP CAO to the Armed Forces of the Philippines on Monday.
UP Corps of Cadets Commander CLtC Vienna Kaye Lagdaan said the donation is a manifestation of support for the AFP and the country’s claims in the West Philippine Sea.
“As a cadet officer, gusto nating iparating sa troops natin sa Kalayaan Island Group na everyone can be united basta alam natin ang purpose na makatulong sa kanila sa island," Lagdaan told reporters during the ceremonial handover in UP Diliman in Quezon City.
"Ang purpose namin ay makapagbigay sa kanila ng encouragement na magpatuloy, and nasa likod nila kami para suportahan sila sa patuloy na pagprotekta sa isla."
Twenty boxes will go to Philippine troops and nine will go to the families on Pagasa Island, known internationally as Thitu Island and the seat of Palawan's Kalayaan municipality.
The packages contain canned goods, bottled water, powdered milk, toiletries, artwork portraits and letters of encouragement given by individual and group donors.
The school children on the island will receive pens, pencils and other school and art supplies. They will also receive new chalkboards.
UP CAO spokesperson Vincent Villamil said they hope the packages would raise the morale of the troops stationed in KIG.
“Years ago, troops were assigned to detachments in the Kalayaan Group of Islands for 6 to 9 months. We hope these packages would uplift them,” Villamil said.
“We believe this initiative contributes to the stability in the West Philippine Sea. We believe troops will find ways to surpass stressful situations," he added.
Brig. Gen. Gabriel Viray III, OJ7 Deputy Chief of Staff, lauded the initiative. He said he is proud of people who willingly step up to give soldiers the material and moral support they need.
“Magandang effort ito ng UP CAO. It will boost the morale of our troops… Nagawa na nila ito noong 2015. Initiatives like this are very much welcomed by the AFP. This is their own volition. This is not only for the troops sa Pagasa, but also the community, especially the children,” he said.
Viray also encouraged the public to donate, if they could, especially in times of disaster.
“Noong Bagyong Agaton at Odette, malaki ang tulong ng civilian sectors and volunteers na nagbigay ng donations sa calamity-stricken areas. Through transportation provided by the AFP, napapadala natin doon sa areas na iyon ang food and non-food items,” Viray noted.
“If they can contribute, well and good po, not only for troops in Kalayaan, but also during disasters, we have the Civil Military Coordinating Centers. Ang office namin sa J7 is facilitating all the donations to be pushed forward sa disaster areas,” he added.
Viray said the AFP aims to have the care packages delivered to troops and families on Pagasa Island before Independence Day.